Ed Stelmach not afraid to sue

Post Image The big political news today of course, is the New Hampshire primary (as I write this, CNN has projected McCain for the Republicans and shows Clinton and Obama in a tight race). But there’s a different political story I want to share with you, one that hits a little closer to home.

From the CBC:

[Alberta] Premier Ed Stelmach is ready to take legal action against a university student who bought the rights to the domain name edstelmach.ca.

On Dec. 3, [Dave] Cournoyer received a letter from Stelmach’s lawyers, accusing him of stealing the premier’s persona. It demands that the blogger hand over the domain and the advertising revenue generated from it to Stelmach or face litigation.

Legal squabbles over domain names happen all the time. Usually they are handled a little better however, especially when a politician is involved. I didn’t have a very high opinion of Stelmach before this little debacle, so how do you think I feel about him now? His first reaction is to sue?

I can’t say it any better than Cournoyer himself:

Though I am still surprised that the +150 staffed Public Affairs Bureau failed to complete the simple task of registering a $14.00 domain name, I am even more surprised that Premier Ed Stelmach’s first reaction in this situation was to threaten to sue an 24-year old blogger and debt ridden University of Alberta student.

Might as well play the student card if you can. Daveberta (as Cournoyer is known) says he is seeking advice from legal counsel.

Read: CBC News

3 thoughts on “Ed Stelmach not afraid to sue

  1. Mack:

    Before we get all "big guy vs. the little guy" here, you have to recognize that Cournoyer was the Liberal Party Communications Coordinator at the time, and I am sure that Stelmach’s team couldn’t have just asked nicely. And we don’t know, maybe they did. Very seldom are lawyers dispatched to send a letter until a gentlemanly call is made first.

    Forget that Cournoyer is a university student. he is representing the Liberal party, his blog posts have been defamatory to the premier and the PC’s, so they would of course have to take a tough stand to get the domain back.

    There will be an election called within a few weeks, and so it may be that the negotiations had to be "raised" a few notches, so Stelmach can get his domain in place. Imagine what the Liberals would have done with it during an election. I can imagine just as much low-brow behaviour from them as well.

    Especially since it is common in Canada for the law to side with the Premier in these types of cases. Cournoyer was cybersquatting on his name, while he was the communications manager for the Liberals.

    Imagine what Kevin Taft would do if some right-wing blogger was using his name to attack him. Same thing I am afraid.

    This stuff makes great media buzz, but no public figure that I know of would handle it any differently.

    And another thing that I am very aware of. Political figures during campaigns are surrounded by hundreds or thousands of volunteers. Registering domains and many of them, is something that is done by such volunteers. It is very likely that Stelmach had no idea who had registered the domain on his behalf, and who of course should have renewed it.

    The 150 plus staff at the Public Affairs Bureau have absolutely no responsibility for private domains, as they are partisan, and Ed Stelmach would have had very few paid staff on his leadership campaign to watch over these smal details. Of course once an election is over, the volunteers dissapear into the night.

    Someone screwed up, but that doesn’t make it right for the Liberals to use the name to attack Stelmach. He has every right to get it back.

  2. Chris,

    Thanks for your very thoughtful comment. A few points:

    – Perhaps you’re right, perhaps it was hard for Stelmach to ask nicely. And who knows, maybe he did. But no one has said that yet. You’d have thought that Stelmach or his people would have said something to that effect if it were true.

    – True, Cournoyer being a student doesn’t matter really, just makes for a better story.

    Now I have to disagree with you on the rest of your comment.

    – Stelmach has been in politics for a very long time…why is he only registering his domain now?

    – Who cares if it is volunteers that *usually* register domains. Take a look at the US election right now, all of them are tech savvy (or savvy enough to hire tech people). We need to stop electing politicians who don’t have a clue. If you or I were in politics, I’m sure we’d have the domain name issue settled well in advance of becoming a public figure.

    – Is it common for the law to side with Premiers? Where did you get that from? I think Cournoyer is fully within his rights to register the domain. Ezra Levant has a good summary of the CIRA policy at http://tinyurl.com/33dkaz

    – Volunteers disappear into the night…all the more reason that Stelmach should get a clue and learn about the Internets.

    Most importantly:

    – How did you come to the conclusion that the Liberals bought the domain to attack Stelmach? Forwarding the domain to Harry Strom as a result of the media coverage was a bad move IMO, but before that, there were no such attacks. It simply redirected to Cournoyer’s blog. Sure his posts are critical of Stelmach, but they are not defamatory in any way.

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